A Year in Review: Wedding Edition

When I was younger, I used to measure a year by daylights, by midnights, by sunsets, and cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, and smiles. This was when I listened to the RENTsoundtrack on repeat and before I hit my late-twenties and began measuring my year in weddings. There was that first wedding when we broke into the Museum of Science and had to be escorted out by museum security. There was that one on the east side when I lost my gift for the bride and groom and then the DJ told me I couldn’t make song requests and then I lost my shoe. There was the year of eleven weddings when all of my friends decided to the tie the knot. And since all of my friends were married, there was a bit of a lull until those of us waiting to meet our partners, those of us with commitment issues, and those of us with other things going on, decided that 2018 was going to be our year.

So, in response to your The One About the Wedding (or at Least a Partial Description), Part I, dated June 5, 2018, here is my recap of all seven (or six and a half) weddings of the year.

We started off the year with the first half of my sister’s wedding, an early morning ceremony at the Brooklyn Marriage Bureau in March. When I say early morning, I mean it. Always the most punctual people in town, we were there at 8am to be first in line for the office’s opening thirty minutes later. My sister and her longtime partner were in the middle of planning a wedding in May, but for insurance purposes, they opted for a small, civil ceremony with the two of them and their two older siblings. There were mixed feelings from our parents about keeping the ceremony to just the four of us, but in the end, it made sense. Prior to this rainy Tuesday, I had only ever been to the Manhattan Marriage Bureau, which is grand and ornate, reminiscent of an old station or theater, not at all like the DMV or, well, the Brooklyn Marriage Bureau, which is fluorescent, plastic, cracked, and crusty, and quite obviously a haven of bureaucracy. Nevertheless, people were festive— in suits and gowns, with cameras— and I couldn’t help but get in the mood. The judge called out my sister for being a crier. The ceremony was over in five minutes, and then we took a bunch of photos, my sister’s face puffy from all that crying, and then we got a fancy juice across the street before they both went to work, and I took it as an excuse to have the day off and went to Target.

And then there was yours. One of the more traditional events of this year, it meant a lot to be a part of your wedding. You win the prize for best ease of access to my home, which was definitely important given that the Ethnomusicologist and I had a frighteningly early call time, and it can be a bit of a challenge to wrangle that one in east coast time (turns out we were not the last people to arrive, just the second to last people). I remember you being very contemplative as we were getting ready, which was a good foil to the quiet frenzy (as frenzied as Girl Loves Noodles and a bunch of women wearing fake eyelashes while crammed into what was one of the smallest hotel rooms I had ever seen) of last minute flower prep and sign writing and succulent label preparation and god, I thought that you would have been more organized than that. And aside from you very overtly mentioning orgasms in your wedding vows and having me read a speech where I said the word “pooh” six times, it was a wonderful ceremony filled with lots of lawyer jokes, references to how much you like Magic, and how devoted your wife is to you. She is. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to plan a scavenger hunt, eat expensive steak and drink expensive wine, get my hair and makeup professionally done, walk through Williamsburg in high heels, dance to all of the party jams from 1999 to 2012 so much so that I was oblivious to any and all drama happening outside, drink all of the wine in the winery, eat all of the cheese, and lose my voice from singing too hard to the Backstreet Boys. It’s the only way to sing to the Backstreet Boys. I recently thought that we were too old to be bridesmaids and groomsmen anymore, but you proved me wrong. It was pretty fun.

Lest we not forget the royal wedding, from which I ripped off a significant amount of my own wedding ceremony. While you were out running the Brooklyn Half in the rain, I awoke at 4:30am eastern to the sounds of my then fiancé making breakfast. He never makes breakfast. When I asked what all the fuss was about, he said, “It’s a great day for gingers!” And it was. Resembling the real Prince Harry, he had been swept up in the frenzy too, getting very comfortable with people shouting the prince’s name at him on the street. That morning, I sat on my couch for close to eight hours, transfixed by the older American woman of color as she married her younger red-headed prince. What’s not to love about three-quarter sleeves, tousled hair, a gospel choir, and making the Brits look like the total fucking uptight assholes that they are? I shed many tears (it turns out that being a crier runs in my family) and was actually convinced that these two beautiful, rich humans— he an orphan and she the daughter of a social worker— actually love each other and that this was more than a giant publicity stunt. So while this is not a wedding that I technically attended, I felt more a part of it than many others, and it was totally better than running 13 miles and then having to get home from Coney Island.

A week later was my sister’s real wedding. As I mentioned, they had wed in a civil ceremony two months prior because they are practical and because they are many years my junior but are responsible for two living, breathing animals and have a doorman and a dishwasher and regularly go to the Prospect Park farmers’ market to buy vegetables. On the rare occasion that we eat vegetables in my house, they are likely smothered in bacon or cream sauce so that Prince Harry will eat them. Aside from you, they were the only wedding that did not serve some combination of steak and salmon. Most boldly, they went Chinese. It was basically a wedding made for Asian Brunch Club— in downtown Manhattan, with lots and lots of dumplings, my godmother who went rogue and started ordering off-menu, and post-wedding karaoke.

I gave a toast at this wedding, which was no small feat, because I absolutely hate public speaking, and no matter how many times I practice or how much water I drink or mantras I recite, I’m fucking terrible at it. This speech wasn’t so bad, as I followed all the rules laid out by my sister (keep it under five minutes and don’t reference the fact that she was a chubby, bratty baby) and got the crowd laughing. And then crying. I even threw in a reference to the royal wedding which went over smashingly well. And then, like true optimists, I was instructed by my sister and brother-in-law to open it up to the crowd, so that their loved ones could share their blessings. The elder cynic in me thought that this was a terrible idea, but all in all, in turned out incredibly well. Some highlights: my cousin, wearing a hat only worn by communists and sporting a waxed mustache that had legitimate curls on the end, many whiskeys down, broke the ice about how much he liked my sister’s husband, even though he had only known him for three hours; my sister’s best friend, in the cutest snakeskin kitten heels, who got up on the bar and shared how he always thought my sister was so fancy because we always had Manchego cheese in our fridge; the groom’s childhood friend who went on far too long about how he used to take her Barbies and rip the heads off of all of them, like a true serial-killer-in-training; and my godmother who, without saying the words “chubby” or “bratty,” shared a hilarious story of taking my sister to Magnolia Bakery where she demanded that she buy her not one, but two, cupcakes. That improv session left a lot of good cheer in the room, so much so that a now relative-in-law-and-infidelity came up to me and said, “That was such a great speech! I mean, even though you were reading it from a piece a paper.”  It’s hard to explain how I felt in that moment. From one perspective, I get it. This relative-in-law-and-infidelity, effectively my sister’s husband’s father’s longtime sidepiece-turned-partner, was giving me a compliment— it was a great speech! But while I wish I had the skills of a litigator who could memorize something full out, or even just an overworked Canadian bankruptcy attorney who could reference an index card every now and again, I had my speech written out verbatim.

By the end of the night, I caught the bartender hiding downstairs while dabbing his brow with a cloth. I asked him if he was okay, and all he could muster was “Damn, you guys know how to drink.” This was not the only time I heard this sentiment about my family. At my own wedding a few months later, when settling up the final bill, I was told that we were a “healthy drinking crowd.” Considering that half of the people in the room were either pregnant or in recovery, I’d say that we were healthier than most. But more on that later.

I stumbled out of my sister’s wedding with a Tupperware full of leftovers and a stolen bottle of wine. I do not know why more weddings don’t let you take home leftovers, but I had never felt more Chinese— not in a Michelle Yeoh way but maybe in a Rachel Chu way— than eating salt and pepper shrimp on the cobblestone streets of Tribeca while wearing a gown. At the karaoke after party, I finally started to feel my age because my sister’s friends kept putting on songs that were terrible choices for karaoke. I’m talking “Nookie” and “N-Words in Paris”— it was uncomfortable to say the least. So I did what every bossy big sister does, and I schooled those amateurs and put on a crowd pleaser: “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. As with your own wedding, everyone sang at the top of their lungs, and it was the absolute best.

Several months of spreadsheets and emails and Amazon orders later, Prince Harry and I showed up in Ithaca for our own wedding. Can you believe that I got married this year? To a real person? Who wants to spend the rest of his life with me? And he’s not a total psychopath, and I actually like his family?

It’s hard to sum up the wedding, except to say that it was pretty fucking cool to have so many loves of my life in one room. Aside from the guy who got arrested and fumbling our marriage license and the flat tire of one of the school buses and no one eating the “cheesecake” I prepped ten minutes before the ceremony began and busting my bracelet so that pearls spilled out onto the dance floor and Buffalo falling off that ledge, it was quite the night. The butter was tasty, the martinis cold, the ceremony on point (and a tearjerker), the moon gold, and the dance floor popping. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in my entire life or felt as beautiful, and I want to get married again and again and again. Obviously that’s silly— we’re not Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon or Heidi Klum and Seal, may their relationships rest in peace— but it totally made my every-third-week crying fit totally worth it.

I also have to disagree with you on something: I find being married very different to having a boyfriend. In the words of Aidan, from my most favorite episode of Sex and the City, which you should watch no later than March 3, 2019 (it’s episode 63), “I’ve had girlfriends for 20 years. I want you to be my wife.” But like, boyfriends. Something settled after we got married, and I feel like the conversations are more serious and the investment in each other more pure. Also, I love saying the word “husband,” so I’ve become one of those people who says it probably way too much. I digress. Also, spoiler alert.

It was an interesting experience to attend weddings the following two weekends after ours. The first in Watertown, New York, a cousin of Prince Harry’s and her now husband, who may have voted for Donald Trump and may own and/or enjoy weapons and may have very different politics than my own. A new relative-in-law: my husband’s cousin’s husband. This was one of the more beautiful settings this year, the ceremony atop a cliff over this beautiful lake. I’ve always wanted to be a boat person, and we were in the land of boat people. Something was really freeing about this wedding. It wasn’t the person who pushed me off the dance floor and said, “Out of my way, Yankee” or learning what a Yankee is or that the wounds of the Civil War are still apparently real. It was the fact that all of the pressure was off, and I could indulge in a second helping of steak and salmon and wildly dance to the “Grease Megamix” and “Cotton-Eyed Joe.” I got hit on by an 88 year-old, who asked me to sit on his lap. Turns out he was also a new relative-in-law: my husband’s aunt’s husband’s father. I messed up another one of my husband’s cousin’s fiancé’s names. I served my husband’s stepfather red meat, when I should have known that he doesn’t eat it. These are all hiccups of joining a large and complicated family, but it felt nice that all of these faux pas occurred when I was out of the spotlight. This was my husband’s cousin’s day.

We traveled far for our final wedding of the year. At this point, I was exhausted. Delirious from family engagements, smiling too much, checking our Instagram counts, rehashing the quick blurb about our wedding that I had mastered at this point, and trying really hard to be the best employee-slash-wife I could be. A wedding in wine country is one of those things that all thirty-somethings of a certain class will experience eventually, and this one did not disappoint. Perhaps the best of the steak and salmon of the bunch, any wedding with a taco bar is well worth the trip across country. Again, while weddings prior to my own only seemed to contribute to my anxiety. At first: Will I ever get married?To: How will I ever be able to afford a wedding like this?To: Where did they get those escort cards? This final wedding of the season, all of that incessant chatter was finally, absolutely, 100% quiet. I got to watch my friend say her beautiful vows, as a local manhunt was under way, and laugh and laugh and laugh with my dearest friends (I was told we may have laughed a little too loudly during the speeches). Getting married in wine country means that there is a lot of wine around, and I drank it all and graciously got a ride home by a pregnant friend and took off my high heels en route and then walked around a gas station convenience store barefoot to buy necessary provisions. I had my first ever microwavable burrito and watched Seinfeld, as I do every night, until I fell asleep. If there was any way to end wedding season, it was this.

We made it back to New York and slept for what felt like months. I think I am still sleeping (I’m actually convinced that I have narcolepsy, but Prince Harry tells me no). I still think back to our wedding regularly and remember how awesome it was and still can’t believe that it actually happened. This was really quite the year, for all of us.

There’s only one wedding on my calendar for 2019, and it’s not until July, so I’ll be due for a blog post by then. I also anxiously await your Part II, whenever you can get to it. Happy New Year, Modellian.

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